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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

whatever you do, make sure it makes you happy.

Feeling inspired today by all the interactions with encouraging friends this past month. If you haven't done so, surround yourself immediately with others that will not only lift you up but challenge your ways of thinking and sharpen you, make you laugh out loud at yourself and offer you empathy when you need just have a good cry. 

When I'm with friends like that, it's abundantly clear to me that all the stars don't have to align or the planets don't have to be squared off or whatever for me to find pockets of joy among the ups and downs of living. 

I can choose to do the things that make me happy. 

Happiness is everywhere... especially today. 

Happy birthday today to my most amazing 13 year old, son #1. His curiosity for life, sensitivity and playfulness remind me to stop taking everything so darn seriously. Thank you for the gift of you. I am truly happy to be your mom.  

*son #1 dressed up for school (hero/ princess day) raising awareness for cancer. yup. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

In love with this life.

I sneak glances over my shoulder. I return to old journals. I often wonder what if... we all do it.

A former love told me that he deleted every single thing I sent to him: photos, messages, email... And I thought, just like that, can we truly erase someone from our hearts? I don't think so. There is residual. I can choose to let it coat me with anger and bitterness, or transform by sprouting new wings to fly out of the fog into clarity.
“…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”Pema Chödrön
This also happened to me in high school (several decades ago!). Someone I dated put everything I ever gave him or that we collected together into a box and put it on my doorstep. At first it was shocking. I believe he thought he'd hurt me by demonstrating his desire to cut me from his life. Then I realized, his clearing out was healthy and OK. His way of processing and moving onward. We didn't need those keepsakes to remind of what we became or how we transformed as a result of our relationship.
“The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.” Pema Chödrön
I have known great love and believe I will know it again. I realize I do not have to hold on to the past in order to create an abundant future.

I'm not looking back anymore. Just keeping my gaze on the horizon. Open to what may come. In love with this life.
Love life, engage in it, give it all you’ve got. Love it with a passion, because life truly does give back, many times over, what you put into it.
Maya Angelou

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

On relationships, grief and finding love, one day.

“The capacity to be alone is the capacity to love. It may look paradoxical to you, but it’s not. It is an existential truth: only those people who are capable of being alone are capable of love, of sharing, of going into the deepest core of another person—without possessing the other, without becoming dependent on the other, without reducing the other to a thing, and without becoming addicted to the other. They allow the other absolute freedom, because they know that if the other leaves, they will be as happy as they are now. Their happiness cannot be taken by the other, because it is not given by the other.”~ Osho
Feeling lonely one day, I vulnerably opened up about my current relationship status on Facebook and received a tremendous amount of not only advise but tender and supportive acknowledgement from many other single women who are also strong, independent and wondering the same thing: why I am alone? Why have I not been asked out?

I received every kind of advise imaginable: I'll set you up with my dad in Cyprus from one young student... I would never ask you out because you're just too amazing (the kind of compliment that feels like an insult)...women who appear powerful simply are intimidating to men... 

But what I heard the most was this: Love yourself first. Be willing to surrender the idea of or the need to be with someone and be content with being alone. 

These past 2 years post divorce, I have gone from having someone reflect to me just how beautiful I am to feeling utter despair over the loss of that relationship. The despair was unlike anything I have ever felt before. It was a kind of unworthiness that was so foreign to me that I now, on the other side of it, have a deeper compassion for those who get ensnared in co-dependent relationships and feel their self worth is based upon the pleasing of another person. 

I never thought that would be me. Never. I am, as some of you know, ridiculously independent, confident and believe that only good can come from any circumstance. How did I fall into the trap of wanting and needing someone else's attention so badly to eventually feeling so rejected that I couldn't get out of bed? 

When the someone leaves for whatever reason, temporary or completely, joy can remain but there is a a part of you missing. It's like when you glue two pieces of paper together, there is no way to separate them clean. The paper will tear, leaving traces of each other on each piece. If this is true, I don't believe there can be absolute freedom or agape love like Osho claims. We can practice equanimity but the reality of it is we are human designed for connection and love, and love is sometimes messy not the ideal. 
"Once you have done "everything that can be done," and still not achieved the cure, the success, the hope you longed for, it is easy enough to feel down, demoralized, beaten. Grief is the sense of loss we have over what could have been, what used to be, what is no more. There is a place for all that for sure. And still, I am utterly convicted, that "every death begets a life." The 'death' may be a long held belief overturned, or a pattern disrupted, or a relationship changed, or the actual expiration of a any case, we grieve, yes, we feel the loss keenly. And when that has been given its due, if we dare to look up, and out, we will see space before us richly filled, glimmering with the light of existing connections and ones yet to be made, beckoning us onward." ~ Gil Hadley

Moving beyond depression and grief, I feel lighter now. It's like staying up all night, enveloped in the darkness and when the dawn comes, you're almost surprised by the intensity of colors and light as the simplicity and beauty of it embraces you. What was once painful, I can hold in my heart and say yes. Wholeheartedly, yes to it. 

I recognize all I can do is set the intention to love myself without conditions or judgement today, this present moment. The intention opens up the path to soften to it. 

But an Eros or romantic love? I have capacity for that fiery, great love. Even though I am learning to be OK with aloneness, don't I warrant this kind of love? Yes, I believe we all do. 

And agape love? I am willing to invoke and attempt to move beyond my insecurities in order to share love non-possessively. One that can only come from an overflowing of loving myself. 

For those of you about to write me and tell me to just wait and the Universe or God or serendipity will simply bring me the right person at the right time, I will say this: I agree. I am open to what may come and bearing in mind most of the advise I received. 
Always the optimist, I trust that my loving partner will come one day. While I still believe in magic, I am at home within me. 




Sunday, March 2, 2014

How to have the best day of your life: Go back to sleep.

Woke up this morning and thought: Today is going to the be the best day of my life!

Not because I have anything great planned. In fact, a list a mile long some of which include finishing my taxes and preparing for not one but 4 guests arriving this week. And a mouth ulcer popped up overnight that I usually get when my body is stressed. Sure signs, I need to put things back in perspective!

This is more than a pep talk. I've set out to envision what my best day would actually look like. Once I got the kids to school, I went back to sleep. How can you start the best day of your life with sleep deprivation? Then, a shower because on your best days, don't you want to look good or at the very least wear clean underwear? Next, a gratitude list. Struggles seem to end when gratitude begins. And now, back to the #writingeverydamnday project.

That's as far as I've gotten.

A mountain of things ahead of me all tossed around like a Parkour obstacle course, but somehow it all seems manageable. When I reinforce the positive and let go of any dialog taking up rent in my mind that says life is anything more than simple. Removing the complicated, today will most assuridly be serendipitous and even fun.

Well, as fun as it can get doing taxes.

The Killer's song dances in my ears and on my heart: "Don't break character. You've got a lot of heart. Is this real or just a dream? Rise up like the sun. Labor till the work is done. Be still. Be still."

#30daysofwriting #writeyourselfalive #writeeverydamnday

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Own the Fear and Do it Anyway.

"The easiest way to avoid wrong notes is to never open your mouth and sing. What a mistake that would be." ~ Joan Oliver Goldsmith

In pursuit of happiness, I have been carving out time in my day to write. Writing clears my brain much like yoga does. Gets me out of over thinking and allows my fingers to quickly spill thoughts to ease my mind-wandering. 

But, what I've written hasn't felt share-worthy. Overly critical of myself and protective of those that I love, my writing has been my exclusive therapy. The past few days, I've spewed all the feelings that I have been afraid to say, even to myself. Everything taboo. Everything that people say you shouldn't write about until after anyone who can verify the story is long gone. 

One writing, however, stood out, pulling at my heart. About to post it, I shelved after a good friend read it and gave less than enthusiastic feedback. I felt derailed. Taking risks, something I've never minded doing, suddenly felt too impulsive. 
“There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.” ~ Miguel Ruiz
I know that I should not heed what others are saying or simply not saying, and listen and abide by my own intuition. I don't really know how to do this consistently. Just like you, I take other's words and paste them on the wall of my heart-- good or bad. 

The only way I know how to not to take things personally is to look. Look at the person who is speaking. What do you see? Not on the outer shell but in their soul? Are they wounded? Are they clueless? Do they speak from bitterness? Are they in a circumstance unfamiliar to you? Or do they really mean well? Which is usually the case, and then I distort it and make the entire thing... about me. 

Everyone has their story. And, our stories tend to define us. If we can see compassionately through someones words or lack of words and realize they are simply telling us a narrative that is their own, then that spark of equanimity might blaze through and ignite freedom in us.  
"Always do what you are afraid to do." Ralph Waldo Emerson 
Learning to own my fears and still do it anyway...that is the start of living. Correctedness is not an absolute. Writing, the effort, results and how I identify with it, isn't my primary aim. It's always been a process of personal growth to share a story and then give it away once it's done. 

"Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that?"  Writing myself alive, again. 

"The only way to fail, is not to write." Gail Sher 




Image: artist Lisa Congdon

Sunday, February 23, 2014

How to make a million mistakes and not ever get completely discouraged.

What's your super Power?

I'd like mine to be kindness. The Dali Lama says "my religion is kindness". When we are so focused on our own agenda, it's hard to move from a place of compassion. When we think that we are out of time or energy or lacking in our most basic of needs, we are less likely to stop and offer a moment of compassion for someone else.

As super human as I would like to think I am, I am simply human. One of my favorite quotes right now, pinned where I can see it... where I can be reminded of our sameness, says:
"I tell you these stories because these things happen to everyone. It is not about being starched or polished or cute or polite. It's about having ears that stick out. About breaking yet another glass. It's about seeing something for the first time and making a million mistakes and not ever getting completely discouraged." 
I would love to tell you about my completely well behaved children and my stellar parenting skills and how that keeps me from making any mistakes. I cannot. When one child is good, the other tends to mis-behave. My parenting often needs more than polishing. I could use a magic fairy with the power of do-overs!

When I'm frazzled, my compassion quickly evaporates. Willful son #2 throws himself on the floor and says, "I'm not going to... walk the dog, wake up, go to school, eat dinner, clear his plate, go to chemo..." This is his mode of operation these days. ... I mean who could blame him?  I don't want to do any of those things either.  One of our first responses to life is our desire for pleasure. And, none of those things are fun!

This leaves me less than compassionate and somewhat disheartened.

If you're a seasoned parent, you most likely have about half a dozen tricks up your sleeve to get a child to do what you need him to. Once I've tried all those, my super power wanes. I feel my voice rising and BOOM! I am no longer sweet, loving yoga mom. Snow white's nemesis, the evil queen, comes roaring out!

To keep from stumbling over the edge into the valley discouragement, this week I am exploring new parenting strategies, but mostly I am returning to me.

What would make me kinder, more compassionate?

TIME. The lack of or need for more time is the universal challenge. It creates unnecessary stress that spills from me into the lives of those around me. I feel the clock constantly ticking. Even now, a client due to arrive in 10 minutes and I want to.... do a million things.

It just isn't going to all get done. And, that has to be ok.

Life is so much more peaceful when I get out of my own way. Release agenda. That, ironically, was my intention for 2014: To be present by letting agenda go. When I am more present, unworried over past, present or future, kindness has room to bloom.

Still the same amount of time as you, all I can do is smile, breath, and go slowly. Keeping the evil queen in check while I practice my super powers, again and again.

Day 2 #30daysofwriting #writeyourselfalive #writeeverydamnday

Saturday, February 22, 2014

30 days of Writing: Writing Myself Alive

6:45am, Day 1 

30 days of writing #30daysofwriting #writeeverydamnday #writeyourselfalive. Founder of Rebelle Society offered this challenge as a way to reconnect with yourself, a science of the soul experiment. Read all about it! with the full details of the how to’s or to join us on the crusade. 

I’m generally great at the start of a project and 95% of the time, seeing something through to the very end as my duty. When I make a decision to do something, and it involves someone else, follow through is an absolute, a promise. No turning back. Going all out, giving more effort than was required. 

I will admit: I am a cheater. Follow through on a personal goal or commitment made to myself for myself is only less than half the time. This was not always the case. The great shift began post divorce. I recognize that I place unnecessary intense pressure on myself, as most women and single mothers do, regarding finances, time allocated to my children, and obligations I’ve made to everyone else. 

When it comes to me, it's hard to justify time to do things just for the fun of it. And, when I do, this bizarre guilt creeps in. Knowing I have to take care of me and do things that make me feel alive while still feeling the gnawing that I could or should be doing something else, for someone else is a tug of war within that overwhelms me. 

A powerful choleric, pitta by nature, I have more ideas than I can possibly accomplish in my lifetime. When someone shares an problem or need with me, like a cartoon bubble above my head, I can see at least a dozen solutions on how to solve it immediately. I usually discern, though that people don’t want to be fixed or told how to succeed. Humans tend to want to figure it out on their own, or they want you to do it with them or for them. 

The energy to do it? I have very little. As delegator, I would be most happy if I had a mini empire with a vast number of wonder women to follow through with all my wild schemes and visions of personal utopia. Anyone want to join me? I have a few ideas...

I know I should give myself some slack. Just to prove it to myself, I'm jotting down a little overview of this past week:
3 yoga private sessions, 3 Thai yoga massages, 3 public classes
1 chemo treatment for son #2
1 shopping spree with sons #1 & 2 to buy supplies for school, movies (for couch potato time after chemo) and fruit on a stick from a mamak stall
3 grocery runs (I have a weird rule of only buying what I can actually carry home, which means 2 bags at a time. Then, I’m only buying what we need, not want.) 
2 AcroYoga practices with friends
5 hours in the car 
21 handstands in the kitchen
1 parent/teacher meeting
30 pushups a day in my bathroom
0 yoga asana on my mat
7 half hour walks with Eddie, the dog, aka son #3
10 15 minute walks with Eddie
5 letters of gratitude for the #365 days of gratitude via sent via snail mail to extraordinarily beautiful souls
45+ hours online: class planning, emails, skype calls, proposals and planning for future travel, workshops & retreats, Facebook, Twitter, Meetup… 
42 hours of sleep
12 hours of homework with son #1
1 order of pizza take away
0 hours of TV 
0 hours of taxes
44 minutes of cumulative reading from a real (as opposed to virtual) book in various places: car, bathroom, dining room
4 minutes noticing the sunrise view from my condo 
And, now 60 minutes of writing of which 22 minutes spent with a cuddling son #2

When I break it down like this, it seems doltish to be hard on myself. (I am avoiding the word "stupid" as I preach to my sons to never call themselves stupid. For years, they both thought it was a "naughty" curse word and would tattle on anyone who said it.) 

Son #2 wasn’t surprised by my list. He said he thought I spent most of my day on my computer posting about yoga, classes, and stuff so I can earn money to take care of him. Someone hand me a tissue, please.

My commitment to this project? I will begin. I am not a fan of the word TRY. I cringe when I hear it. There is no try, only do, as Yoda says. You might as well say the Truth: you’d like to but you will most likely not. 

The blog will only feature the highlights as I travel, but there is no trying to do it. Simply, consider it done. 

Writing myself alive.